We are now in the height of the Westminster silly season where political feeds erupt with meaningless speculation and gossip so I thought I’d join in the barrage too!
The other day, Jeremy Corbyn joined with the normal people of Britain and went on a train to find no seats available. Therefore, he took the drastic action of sitting down on the floor. This hardship was then filmed by a Corbyn campaigner and broadcast to the world. Isn’t it fantastic to see a common sense leader of a political party standing, or should that be sitting, with the rest of society? I would like to, however, look at the words ‘common sense.’ If the Labour Party had a leader oozing with common sense, he would book in advance and get a reserved seat!
Far too often, depictions of politicians interacting with everyday people turn out to be PR disasters. Corbyn told us that his election would signal the end of political advisors and spin doctors constructing his every move. However, publishing Corbyn’s train antics is exactly the spin he vowed to avoid. Corbyn would have known too well that the newspapers are crying out for every last political snippet during the parliamentary recess and that they would prey on every detail of the video.
Corbyn’s failure contrasts well with Theresa May’s latest holiday snaps of her and her husband hiking in the Swiss Alps – a photograph taken to show the Prime Minister’s adventurous qualities. One word of advice to Corbyn: if you are going to invent some political spin, do it properly – especially when us commentators have nothing else to rant about!
(Updated 23rd August – Virgin Trains has since released press release disputing Jeremy Corbyn’s characterisation of a ‘ram-packed’ saying there were seats available. They suggest that in future Corbyn pre books to ensure a seat! See full press release)
Poor old Merrick Garland, and President Obama, and the Democratic Party for that matter. We are now almost at the 150 day mark since Obama pushed the button and nominated Garland to replace the late Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court. Despite clear enshrinement in the constitution that the ‘President nominates’ and the ‘Senate confirms,’ Republicans have stood firm by blocking, not confirming.
Senate Republican figures are on a tirade about how once Trump becomes President (!), he will nominate an ultra-conservative stalwart to the highest court in the land. There is, however, one problem with this idea. Will Trump actually ever reach the White House? The most substantial convention bounce was awarded to Clinton after a far more united affair. Polls have consistently shown over the past weeks that there will be a female President in the form of Clinton.
Once Clinton swears the oaths of office, she will climb up to the podium and proclaim a new Supreme Court Justice far more liberal than the moderate Garland. One illustration of Garland’s ideological leanings is his disapproval from Bernie Sanders and his heavy weight of supporters. On the opposite side of the spectrum, back in 2010, Senate Republicans urged Obama to nominate Garland as the “consensus nominee,” yet Obama gave Elena Kagan the post. Despite Garland’s approval from Republicans in 2010, 2016 is certainly a different story.
With Trump’s endless bloopers and blunders, surely it is time for Republicans to give in. If they were happy in 2010, why not 2016? I can say one thing, they certainly won’t be happy in 2017 once Clinton fills the vacancy.
They used to be the laughing stock of UK politics. Yet on 23rd June they achieved their ultimate goal – to leave the EU. So what remains for UKIP?
Many will hear UKIP and immediately cast their minds back to those homophobic and racist comments that have dogged the party in the past. Two particular incidents come to mind: the link between gay marriage and flooding by David Silvester and Godfrey Bloom’s infamous reference to ‘Bongo Bongo Land.’ Despite their bloopers, Nigel Farage and his Eurosceptic entourage succeeded in what many thought to be an impossible dream.
With Farage’s work complete, he vacated the golden throne of UKIP triggering yet another laborious leadership election plagued with in-party turmoil. The executive decided that their only MP was illegible to stand having only been a UKIP member for two years whilst once favourite Steven Woolfe was banished from the ticket having missed the deadline. The importance of the new leader and indeed the very existence of UKIP however, must be questioned – after all, haven’t they achieved their single objective?
Or maybe not? We hear Theresa May harp on about how “Brexit means Brexit” but on what terms? A single market? Free movement? It is rather clear from the referendum campaign that UKIP don’t want anything to do with the European Project. UKIP require a leader who possesses the temerity of Farage to petition to government for a clean exit on the terms of Britain’s leading Eurosceptic party.
Despite only commanding one seat in the 2015 Westminster election, UKIP gained a respectable 13% of the vote. This support combined with the Brexit vote represents a disenfranchised electorate who don’t necessarily vote upon economics and policy but rather rhetoric with a strong air of anti-establishment. Remind you of anyone? Yes, Donald Trump seems to have used a similar platform of dislike for the political system to gain support. Opinion polling has proved that this banner is certainly attractive for the working class who see a political system that has failed to rescue them from the struggles of daily life.
Will any new UKIP leader succeed in gaining any more seats in Westminster? Or is their main function now charting a Brexit on their own terms with Westminster representation being seen as a lost cause with the disproportionate nature of first past the post? To achieve either of these goals, they must find a leader who shares the audacity of Farage – the poster-boy of the anti-establishment.
Parliament is now a week into its summer recess of six weeks and will only sojourn briefly for two weeks in September. MPs will then gallivant off to the likes of Brighton, Liverpool and Birmingham for their party conferences – a meagre and dismal affair in light of the all singing-dancing American conventions.
The Commons will therefore be sitting for a measly 10 days from now until almost the middle of October. With this in mind, isn’t the electorate being robbed of their representation in Parliament – the sovereign body of power? What about attending debates, voting on laws and raising grievances of constituents?
This recess has also caused the hiatus at Hinkley Point with a decision not being made until early autumn. The unions have raised consternation over the government’s intermission in a scheme that would deliver 7% of the UK’s electricity once built. The plant’s ribbon won’t be cut till for another nine years so a few months’ pause is negligible. Isn’t it fair enough for a new Prime Minister to read into the small print – especially given that the Department for Energy and Climate Change has been incorporated into the remit of the Department of Business?
The media have certainly eaten into this as a political storm but can this simply be attributed to the media train grinding to a halt with the summer recess? For months, the news channels have been catapulted with endless news stories of Brexit and reshuffles. Now that these feeds aren’t constantly flowing out of Westminster, has the media felt a need to pump up the politics of Hinkley Point? Don’t get me wrong, I’m not going on a leftie-BBC rant – it’s a story circulating throughout all the news channels and newspapers. If we still had Brexit scaremongering flying around, would Hinkley Point have been such an imperative measure of government weakness?
So until Parliament and the media find their feet again in early Autumn, let’s not term this pause as a governmental debacle. Instead, we should be applauding Theresa May’s staunchness for scrutiny.
One major function of the conventions is to heal the wounds ravaged open from the noxious primary season. This time, the function seems to have flown out of the window.
Firstly, last week’s Republican convention. In 2008, Clinton was seen to hug up to Obama with a shining endorsement. Little of the same can be said for the evangelical Christian Ted Cruz who lost out to Trump. His speech urged the electorate to vote with their “conscience.” Not exactly the radiant endorsement that Trump was hoping to soak up.
Meanwhile, the Democrats have fared only slightly better it seems. Those wounds of Sanders are still burning, especially following Clinton’s elevation of the rather conservative Tim Kaine to the Vice President nominee. The progressive movement, anchored so closely to the Sanders campaign, was devastated by Clinton’s ignorance for what was such a huge body of support. Why wasn’t Sanders or at least the progressive stalwart Elizabeth Warren imprinted next to Clinton’s name on the ballot? Instead it’s centrist Kaine – the Latino hero with a personal aversion to abortion.
In this choice, it looks as if Clinton has prioritised the need for Trump votes instead of the satisfaction of the left leaning mob clinging onto Sanders’ coattails. So with this in mind, where do Sanders supporters latch onto? The obvious answer would be his Democratic counterpart, Clinton, but think again. Some left leaners may bypass Clinton to support Trump with his shared distrust for the establishment and the political dynasty headed up by Clinton.
Nowadays, it seems that left and right are no longer appropriate labels to fully define voters. No longer do the left vote for Democrats and the right for Republicans. Rhetoric encapsulated within the overused taglines proclaiming America’s greatness, or lack of it, now seem to overwhelm political platforms. Alongside this are the bruising personal attacks that are used by both sides to brandish their opponents as untrustworthy or pessimistic.
It seems that two raucous weeks of political slamming normally reserved for remedying the woes of the primaries have simply aggravated the wounds already deep.